What can we learn from the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales?

As politics is in a constant state of flux, it is time to take a step back and think about what needs to happen to ensure real commitment to sustainable development and secure the needs of future generations.

Like the Conservative Party mantra quoted throughout the recent general election campaign, leadership on the environment and social justice needs to be ‘strong and stable’. Strong in that it is sufficiently embedded into institutional decision-making to affect real change; and stable in that the body set up to deliver it cannot be shut down at the whim of a future government.

Taking lessons from the untimely demise of the UK Sustainable Development Commission (SDC), the Welsh government brought in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in 2015. Tied in with this legislation was the position of the Future Generations Commissioner, currently held by Sophie Howe.

The role promotes sustainable development across public services in Wales, ensuring wellbeing objectives are met, as well as enabling future generations to meet their needs. As was pointed out previously by the SDC, this long-term approach is necessary to ensure a commitment to sustainable development across multiple political cycles.

Is now a time when we should push for real commitment to the sustainable development goals through the constitutional integration of a UK Future Generations Commission or Futures Commissioner?

This topic was the subject of debate in April at an event organised by the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, the Centre for the Study of Democracy, and the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity. Speakers included Sándor Fülöp, former parliamentary commissioner for Future Generations of Hungary, and Howe’s predecessor Peter Davies.

A recording of the event is available at bit.ly/2qZJYJM. For more details visit CUSP.ac.uk.

Go to @IEMAFutures on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to join.